Fly Me To The Moon



Opens: Friday, Aug. 15 (Summit Entertainment).

Presenting an insect's-eye-view of the historic Apollo 11 space mission, "Fly Me to the Moon" is an awkward mix of proficient 3-D animation, detailed technical recreation and strained storytelling that stalls on takeoff.

With his extensive background in 3-D production, director Ben Stassen delivers on the technology, but the flyweight narrative and characterizations are awfully flat, despite a voice cast that includes Christopher Lloyd, Kelly Ripa, Tim Curry, Nicollette Sheridan, Ed Begley Jr. and Adrienne Barbeau.

While the Summit Entertainment release is hoping to hitch a ride on the 3-D success of "Journey to the Center of the Earth," it could find itself in for a bumpy landing, following closely on the heels of Fox's underperforming "Space Chimps."

The fly-on-the-wall perspective is the only real novelty in Domonic Paris' otherwise generically uninspired screenplay, which follows a trio of common tween houseflies (voiced by Trevor Gagnon, Philip Daniel Bolden and David Gore) who manage to stow away aboard Apollo 11 and witness history in the making.

That is, if they're able to stop a conniving Soviet fly-spy (Curry channeling "Bullwinkle's" Boris Badenov, while Sheridan summons Natasha) from sabotaging the operation.

But although Stassen demonstrates a painstaking attention to detail when it comes to reconstructing those iconic Apollo images, he all but trips over the rushed lead-in and swarm of nondescript characters in his eagerness to get there.

By the time the real-life Buzz (get it?) Aldrin pops up to deliver what is in essence a disclaimer regarding the possibility of there being flies on the actual Apollo 11 flight, "Fly Me to the Moon" has already found its own place in history -- as an oddball curiosity that failed to get the bugs out.

Production: nWave Entertainment, Illuminata Pictures.
Voices: Christopher Lloyd, Kelly Ripa, Nicollette Sheridan, Tim Curry, Trevor Gagnon, Philip Daniel Bolden, David Gore.
Director: Ben Stassen; Screenwriters: Domonic Paris; Producers: Charlotte Clay Huggins, Caroline Van Iseghem, Gina Gallo Paris, Mimi Maynard; Executive producers: Eric Dillens, Domonic Paris, Ben Stassen. Music: Ramin Djawadi.

Rated G, 89 minutes.